Google is now favouring SSL Certificates on all Websites
Over the last few years there has been a push to move websites from the standard HTTP protocol to the secure HTTPS protocol. Put simply, this means getting an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate for your website and adding authentication and security to your website. This means that a user’s personal data is secured whilst browsing your website.
In the past it was expected that all e-commerce websites which store or process sensitive personal and credit card data should have an SSL certificate but over the past few years there has been a concerted push from Google for the entire web to be secured with SSL. In early 2018 Google set out its plan to flag any website without an SSL certificate as insecure. the latest version of Chrome (version 68) will include the security warning. The warning itself will appear in the URL bar of the browser to the left of the domain name.
Google has stated that websites using SSL will benefit from an improved search ranking. As this push towards securing the web by Google is relatively new it’s tricky to quantify the exact SEO benefit of using SSL . However, as Google prefers websites that put users privacy and security first and foremost they give a slight ranking advantage over those sites that do not have an SSL certificate installed.
The visual cue that a site has an SSL certificate is the green padlock to the left of the domain name in the address bar of your browser. If a site doesn’t have an SSL certificate then the Google Chrome browser will display a not secure message. When a user sees the green padlock they know that they can trust the site and can safely enter personal details. Increased visitor trust has the knock on effect of also increasing user loyalty and repeat sales.
Does your website have an SSL certificate? If you would like more advice on hosting your website or purchasing an SSL certificate please email us at email@example.com
WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg Update
There’s a new page and post editor coming to WordPress soon which promises to revolutionise the way that WordPress pages are built.
Originally scheduled for release in April 2018 bundled with version 5.0 of WordPress the new Gutenberg editor will forever change how you edit your WordPress websites posts and pages. The new editor forgoes the TinyMCE editor of old for an entirely new approach to creating pages. In Gutenberg every piece of content is assigned as its own block. Having tested Gutenberg using the beta plugin i can see the potential for the new editor but it’s also highlighted a few issues that are likely to arise from such a drastic change to the WordPress editing eco system. The New user interface is incredibly minimal with quite a lot of mystery meat navigation used for important editing functionality. Within time i’m sure it’ll become second nature but it might be a slightly jarring experience for the uninitiated who are used to the simple editing offered by the current TinyMCE editor. There are a whole raft of new features with the new editor that are exciting and will help content creators and hopefully developers to create layouts that were impossible with the classic editing interface before.
A few exciting new features coming in Gutenberg:
Text column blocks:
Allows the user to add a row of columns and add test into each, something that would have required custom fields or a bespoke page builder before. At the moment this can get a little messy in the editor if you add a large number of columns as they overlap making editing a bit confusing,
If you wanted to create a contact banner for each page you can make a block reusable which as the name suggests you can use on other pages, this promises to be a great time saver.
Cover Images with foreground text
This has become a ubiquitous feature of modern websites. Gutenberg now provides an easy way to have a large background image with text over the top.
A few downsides to the new Gutenberg Editor
Design and Usability
I like minimal design but for an editor i find the Gutenberg layout too minimal and difficult to use with all of the main editing elements hidden or overlapping. As a web professional, I’m concerned that if i find the layout confusing and unintuitive then end users will struggle even more. I find myself clicking randomly on blocks to try and select them, then once the block is selected it’s tricky work with, this is especially true for columns. Aligning images with text is similarly awkward with the new editor.
Forcing major new functionality on users and developers
Having a quick read through the reviews of the Gutenberg plugin is a bit of an eye opener. There are a huge number of 1 star reviews, many of which are concerned with usability and how the average user will adapt to the new editor. It will also mean plugin and theme developers will have to change how they approach development, hopefully for the better.
Page builder compatibility
This isn’t really an issue for Portal as we use Advanced Custom Fields for tricky layouts which works well with the new Gutenberg editor. However, many websites use site builder plugins like Visual Composer or Beaver Builder to create more intricate page layouts. Whilst the larger page builder companies should be able to adapt and update their products to work with the new Gutenberg editor the smaller companies may struggle to upgrade to the new technology.
Having used the Gutenberg editor plugin for several weeks i can see the possibilities it provides, i can also see the large number of bugs (Automattic are bravely building Gutenberg out in the open) and potential issues it throws up. It is however, a step in the right direction for WordPress but i feel it needs more development time and user testing before it can be released and even then Automattic should consider keeping it as a plugin rather than in the core of WordPress.
What is Social Engineering?
What is Social Engineering and how does it intrude on your business?
We have spoken a lot about social engineering in our recent blogs but as it is now at the forefront of cyber-attacks we thought it was important to address; what is Social Engineering? How does Social Engineering effect businesses? And how can you stop social engineering in your businesses.
What is Social Engineering?
Hackers are now using human error to undergo cyber security attacks on businesses. This means it is not hackers sitting behind a screen, using sophisticated software and programs to hack into your computer or accounts but instead they are forcing people into making mistakes or taking actions which allow them access to your systems. This could be done by sending fake invoices to your accounts department or asking you to change the bank account details for a company via email.
Why is Social Engineering effective?
Security policies are as strong as their weakest link. There are four phases that a hacker will go through to breach your security.
- Research target company
- Select victim
- Develop relationship
- Exploit relationship
Hackers look in to human behaviour, breaching the human nature of trust. There are many factors that make companies vulnerable of malicious attacks, one being insufficient security training, and a lack of security policies. It is crucial nowadays to make sure that you have the appropriate software in place, to try and prevent these attacks.
Social Engineering can start off by a Whaling Attack. Whaling scams are emails designed to disguise as a critical businesses email, coming across as a legitimate business authority. A large social media platform ‘Snapchat’ received an email that was sent to the payroll department, pretending to be sent from the CEO asking for employee payroll information. The financial executive of Mattel, a toy manufacturer was another company that received an email from a scammer pretending to be the newly appointed CEO requesting $3m money transfer, in which they succeeded. Whaling is similar to Phishing in that it uses methods such as email and website spoofing. Convincing phishing emails that looks authentic, tricks the target in to performing specific actions such as transferring money. These emails are usually circulated to accounts and finance departments on a Friday in attempt to apply pressure to the end user and forcing errors. Whaling email addresses look very similar to your organisation’s email, and even use your company’s logo, which aims to catch you out.
What is the potential impact of a cyber attack?
There can be many fatal impacts of a cyber security attack. An attack can result in economic losses. There is also the cost of loss of reputation and good will. If your company experiences a security breach it could provide hackers with access to your businesses data base meaning your clients information such as credit card details, personal data and sensitive business information is vulnerable. This puts your business in a difficult position and in many instances, has results in businesses reputations being ruined. Furthermore, they could initiate a lawsuit against your business, that can have a severe impact on the reputation of your business. It can also result in temporary or permanent closure.
How to protect your business against a cyber attack
Involve the police. Make sure you have the right Anti-Virus solution in place and become educated in it. It is vital to invest in robust security practises. Encourage key staff members to maintain a healthy level of suspicion when it comes to spontaneous contact, especially if it involves finance. The main thing to do is to talk about it, don’t hide it!
Hackers are now using social engineering to attack businesses which means the attacks are more targeted at individuals using personal details to engage trust with the user. If you have any concerns about social engineering and whaling emails please contact our support help desk – firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Apprentices – Where Are They Now?
MIKEY MARR AND SOPHIE MCGRAW, THEIR JOURNEY.
Following up from Modern Apprenticeship week, we would like to share some of our apprentice’s stories and how far they have come during their time at Portal Technologies. We sat down with Mikey, our Technical Support Manager, and Sophie our Marketing Assistant to discuss their time here at Portal and what they have achieved.
Mikey started at Portal Technologies in June 2012, only 19 years of age, undergoing an apprenticeship in Information and Communication Technology Professionals. After successfully completing his apprenticeship, he was offered a permanent position at Portal. Mikey has grown with the business over the last 6 years and now manages our IT helpdesk. Mikey is a great ambassador of our apprenticeship scheme and shows how his hard work and determination has moved him into a management role.
- What made you choose to do an apprenticeship?
“When I left school, I truly didn’t know what I wanted to do, so my best option was further education. After completing my IT NC in college, I decided I wanted to start building some income, but I wasn’t too sure about diving in to a qualified role. I felt like I wanted to gain experience in a working environment, but still learn. The thought of ‘earn whilst you learn’ really appealed to me. So, I applied for a few apprenticeships, in all different fields and again, fell in to IT.”
- What did you learn during your apprenticeship and what have you learned during your time at Portal Technologies?
“I thoroughly enjoyed my apprenticeship. I learned a lot during it, way more than I learned in college. The thing I really liked about the apprenticeship was that I was learning and studying the theory of a processes, and immediately after I saw the practical side of it being performed – this is where I learned the most. Every day was different. I was able to go on site and meet new clients and got to experience different working environments. I really feel like I have gained more confidence at my time at Portal.”
- Where are you now?
“I have achieved all of my Microsoft MTA exams in operating systems, security, networking and servers. Another thing that I achieved was my driving test. I would’ve never learned to drive if it wasn’t for needing to because of my job. I attended an Office 365 course, and I am now known as the office 365 ‘guru’ in the office. I feel confident enough to speak with clients, providing them with advice on what packages are most suited to them. In December 2017 I was promoted to Technical Support Manager. I now manage all incoming support tickets, organising site visits and oversea the overall helpdesk, on top of managing my own tickets and going on site visits. My apprenticeship has helped me gain a great amount of knowledge about the IT Industry. Choosing to do an apprenticeship was the best possible way for me to learn. I am pleased I took this apprenticeship as I have never looked back.”
Sophie started at Portal Technologies in September 2015 undergoing an apprenticeship in Level 3 Business Administration. Sophie flourished in her apprenticeship and started to widen her knowledge in other areas of the company. When joining Portal Technologies Sophie was unsure of the direction she wanted to progress her career in wanted to get a good all round understanding of the various roles in business. The management team at Portal soon recognised Sophie’s creative skill and engaging personality which were ideally suited to a role in social media. As such, Sophie has continued her leanings after her apprenticeship and is forever expanding her skill set.
- What made you choose to do an apprenticeship?
“After I left school, I wasn’t too sure what path I wanted to go down. So, I thought the wise thing to do was to go in to further education. The thought of university wasn’t for me, so I decided to apply for an HNC in Social Sciences at college. After successfully completing my HNC, I decided I wanted to get a full-time job and gain some experience in an office environment. I was struggling to find employment that didn’t require years of experience – this is when I stumbled across apprenticeships. I really liked the thought of learning on the job.”
- What did you learn during your apprenticeship and what have you learned during your time at Portal Technologies?
“I enjoyed my apprenticeship. I really started to understand how a business is run and what is involved in an administrative role. But I must say, I learned a great deal from Portal alone. As Portal Technologies is a small business, I started to become involved in different areas and was given a lot of responsibility – which I loved! My role is varied every day which suits me, and is one reason why I took the job at Portal. One day I could be managing our accounts and creating quotes for clients, the next I could be using photoshop for Social Media!”
- Where are you now?
“During the last year, I have started to take on much more within the company. Whilst working alongside Elspeth, the Sales and Marketing Director, I became interested in Digital Marketing and Social Media. As well as my administrative duties, I now manage all of our social media channels and our client’s. This involves generating content and creating artwork for posts and blogs. I am currently undergoing a Diploma in Digital Marketing, which I am thoroughly enjoying as I am learning and expanding my knowledge. Last month I presented to an audience of 55 on ‘How to Measure Success on Social Media’ with Elspeth, which was a success and something that I am proud of! In nearly 3 years I feel like I have accomplished a lot at my time here at Portal Technologies. I am very appreciative of the opportunities my apprenticeship has given me.”
At Portal Technologies we stress the importance of every member of staff in our team and strongly emphasis that as the business grows our staff grows with it. Mikey and Sophie’s journey with Portal Technologies is a clear example of the progression you can see at Portal Technologies. We are always on the look out for new talent and people with a passion for customer service. If this is something you are interested in head over to our About Us page – https://www.portaltechnologies.uk/about-us/
Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2018
Jordan Lee, our latest apprentice.
Happy Modern Apprenticeship week! To celebrate Modern Apprentice Week we thought we would introduce to you our latest apprentice and tell you a bit more about how Portal Technologies apprentice scheme works!
Jordan Lee is our latest apprentice at Portal Technologies. Jordan joined us on 15th January 2018 undergoing an apprenticeship in IT Systems and Networking. He is settled in to office very well and is flourishing in his apprenticeship. We sat down with Jordan to ask him a few questions about his apprenticeship, here’s what he had to say.
- Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?
“I chose to do an apprenticeship as I wanted to continue to do higher education. I wanted to be in a working environment but learning on the job, and gain work experience. The reason I chose to do an IT Systems apprenticeship is because this is where the majority of my interests lie and where my skills have led me. I have been interested in IT from a young age and continued throughout my school years.”
- What made you chose to do you apprenticeship with Portal Technologies?
“Portal Technologies has a dedicated IT department, which means there will be people with a high level of IT Knowledge within that which I could learn from daily. I really liked the look of Portal’s website when I was researching the company – the ethos of the company came across well and I felt they would be a good fit for me. I particularly liked the ‘Meet the Team’ section, as everyone looked friendly, down to earth and fun to work with – this is important to me as they looked like a good team to be part of. I was also pleased to see the progression of several of the team members which started as apprenticeships so I saw the opportunity for development within the company.”
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
“I see myself having completed a few apprenticeships and diplomas. I would really like to have a qualification in Cyber Security, and hopefully have a specialised job in this area. I would also like to carry out Penetration Testing in my role.”
We asked Craig, our Managing Director, a few questions on why he takes on apprentices.
- Why do you take on apprentices?
“I’m looking for a particular personality and way of thinking – personable, friendly and customer service focussed. We had a fantastic experience with our first apprentice, Mikey, who is still with us after 6 years. Mikey had a great willingness to learn, so we continued to hire apprentices and its worked for us ever since.”
- What are the benefits of having an apprentice?
“I feel that with apprentices, you can mould them to your businesses culture and way of doing things – they have no baggage from a previous company. We can teach them about different systems, structures, basically train them from scratch.”
Craig also went on to say;
“When leaving college, I found it difficult to find a job as every company required at least two years’ experience. Now being in a position to be able to offer young people experience I wanted to give them this opportunity and help support the younger workforce coming through. Although the Scottish government have been trying to address the skills shortage in the IT sector I think it is important businesses are also doing their part to support people trying to progress their career in this sector.
Jordan joined us through the training provider QA Apprenticeships https://apprenticeships.qa.com/
Portal Technologies Are Doing The Kilt Walk
Portal Technologies Are Doing the Kilt Walk
Portal Technologies are taking on the Mighty Stride Kilt walk to raise money for a local Forth Valley charity – Scottish Families affected by Drugs and Alcohol. On Sunday 29th April our team of 10 will be taking on the streets of Glasgow to complete the Mighty Stride which is 23 miles. So we are brushing off the cobwebs on our walking boots from our Ben Nevis expedition to start training for this new challenge.
We moved our office to Larbert around two years ago and now we have fully made ourselves at home we decided it would be fantastic to support a local charity. Scottish Families affected by Drugs and Alcohol was introduced to us by Sarah Campbell at the end of last year and as a team we were all compelled by the work they were doing in our area to provide as much support as we could.
Scottish Families affected by Drugs and Alcohol is a small charity which supports anybody who is worried about loved one’s drug or alcohol misuse. They run a number of local groups where family members in similar situations have the opportunity to share their personal experiences in a safe and supportive space. For many family members, stigma and the fear of being judged can lead to loneliness, isolation and depression. Their support groups are somewhere people can go to talk openly, learn new skills, and receive and give support.
So our team have set the goal of raising £2,000 to support this fantastic cause. We would be extremely grateful for any donations you would like to give or even just come along to support! We will be keeping everyone updated with our training efforts so keep an eye on our Facebook page!
To donate please visit – https://glasgowkiltwalk2018.everydayhero.com/uk/portal-technologies
How to Choose a Web Design Company
How to Choose a Web Design Company
Need a new website?
Here are some keys tips to consider before hiring a web developer to design and develop your new website. If you have any questions, please contact us!
What is Digital Marketing?
How can digital marketing grow your business?
Here is our Marketing Director to give you the low down on what digital marketing is and how you can use it to grow your business. Have a question? Email email@example.com
How to make Social Media Work for Small Businesses
How to make Social Media Work for Small Businesses
Does this sound familiar? “I know I should be on social media but I don’t know how to make it work for my small business.” Many business owners are feeling the pressure to be on social media and have heard all the wonderful stories about how it has transformed a business’s sales pipeline but are not sure how to apply it to their own business.
The first thing to consider is do you have the time and resources to manage your own social media platforms and what does this involve?
Many businesses delegate social media to a staff member who has a little extra time on their hands and are good at managing their own personal accounts. This is the first mistake. Social Media marketing should be taken seriously and is an effective marketing tool so should be given the time and resources that you would with any other marketing campaign. Furthermore, you need a staff member who can apply marketing principles and sales tactics to your social media activity to make it an effective tool. Not just someone who likes to post about the weather or cakes people brought into the office! (Although we love these posts they’re not going to generate a new lead for you).
Content is the absolute key to a successful social media strategy so it is vital that you have someone in your organisation who can create strong and engaging content. This includes creative and visually appealing images, thought provoking blogs, informative infographics and the creme dala crème is video content! Again these are skills and qualities you need to find in your staff.
This is where most small businesses fall down. You wouldn’t invest time or money in marketing without having clear goals and objectives so why do it on social media. Before wasting anytime on creating content or posting you need to ensure you have a clear strategy of what you want to achieve with social media and how you are going to do it. This can vary from brand awareness, lead generation or even market research. Some businesses use polls and competitions to undertake product or market research.
So now you feel totally overwhelmed that you need to do all this or find someone in your staff that can. But I am here to reassure you that social media is not that scary! You just need to think of it as an additional tool that you can use to grow your business. By setting out clear goals and a strategy of what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it, you can establish what resources you need to get the job done. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to invest in it and spend time on it. As mentioned in our Content is King blog, in this competitive environment you need to build trust with your target audience and social media gives you a great platform to do this but it doesn’t happen overnight.
Social Media is usually at the bottom of everyone’s list as they know they need to do it but don’t have the time. But if you are serious about growing your business it is the ideal sales tool to reach your customer. Remember there is nothing worse than an abandoned, ghost-town Facebook page so if you don’t use it, don’t have it!
We have helped many small businesses come up with a strategy for their social media activity and have given them a clear focus and direction on how to achieve their overall business goal using social media. If you would like to have a chat about your social media please give us a call on 01324 469 200.
HTTP vs HTTPS
Securing your site with SSL
Over the last few years there has been a push to move websites from the standard HTTP protocol to the secure HTTPS protocol. Put simply this means getting an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate for your website and adding authentication and security to your website. This means that user personal data is secured when browsing your website and adding personal data to online forms.
In the past it was expected that all e-commerce websites which store or process sensitive personal and credit card data have an SSL certificate but over the past few years there has been a concerted push from Google in particular for the entire web to be secured with SSL.
The benefits of using an SSL certificate on your website
SSL encrypts the data sent through your website
This is the main reason for using SSL. If your website accepts any type of user input, whether it be a simple contact form or a full blown e-commerce shop then an SSL certificate ensures that the data entered can’t be intercepted by hackers or any other malicious evil doers. SSL encrypts any data that is transmitted by a website rendering it unreadable and inaccessible to any one trying to intercept it.
Increase visitor trust
The visual cue that a site has an SSL certificate is the green padlock to the left of the domain name in the address bar of your browser. If a site doesn’t have an SSL certificate then the Google Chrome browser can display a not secure message, although this is only on pages containing forms:
When a user sees the green padlock they know that they can trust the site and can safely enter personal details. Increased visitor trust has the knock on effect of also increasing user loyalty and repeat sales.
Improved Google rank
Google has stated that websites using SSL will benefit from an improved search ranking. As this push towards securing the web by Google is relatively new it’s tricky to quantify the exact SEO benefit of using SSL so stay posted for an update about that. It is safe to say that there is definitely no negative SEO impact of using SSL.
Secure online payments
PCI compliance requires that any website processing payments has to have an SSL certificate in place. If a site processes payments and doesn’t have an SSL then it will be denied PCI compliance. Many e-commerce sites can bypass this as they process user payments with external payment gateways such as PayPal, WorldPay and Sage Pay where the user is taken to the external payment gateways secure website to complete payment.
Adding SSL to your site
Adding SSL to your site is different for each host, all shared hosting providers will offer some type of SSL certificate which range in price depending on your requirements. These range in price from £50 to £100 per year and can normally be installed with a few muse clicks. If you have a dedicated server using Cpanel software then it’s possible that your website could get a free SSL via Cpanel itself or Let’s Encrypt.
Protecting Small Businesses from Cyber Attacks
How to protect SMES from cyber attacks.
Hear what our Managing Director has to say about Cyber Security! Check out the following video on what actions to take to help prevent Cyber Attacks. For more information on protecting your business against cyber crime contact us!
Small Business latest victim of ransomware virus
SMES are the latest victims of Cyber Attacks
The need for improved cyber security has increased over the last year following a recent increase in cyber-attacks. Companies worldwide are reporting that they have been hit with a major ransomware cyber-attack, including the NHS in May 2017. Unfortunately we have seen a spike in the number of SMEs being affected by cyber-attacks. We have put together a brief case study to show you how a local SME was affected by a ransomware virus and the affects it had on the business.
WHAT THE VIRUS WAS?
A medium sized business with sites located across Scotland was recently hit with a Ransomware Virus called URSSA. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts a user’s documents on a server, making them unusable. The virus leaves ransom notes explaining to the user that the only way they can recover their files is if ransom is paid. Here is an example of a ransom note:
The business’s accounting Software, SAGE, requires certain data base files for it to open account information. The virus itself modifies the files and makes them inaccessible, as mentioned above.
When SAGE tries to locate the files, it notices that they have been changed and the SAGE application is unable to open accounts information.
HOW IT AFFECTED THE USER/BUSINESS?
A user called in to our helpdesk saying that they couldn’t open any files in SAGE. Our technicians discovered that their files had been encrypted. This means that the business user couldn’t access any of their files. However, this could’ve been a much larger threat.
If the virus hadn’t been stopped when it was, it could’ve led to all users not being able to access any files, and the businesses IT infrastructure collapsing. If the entire company had been infected, for example, if all servers were hit where files are stored, then all users within the company would be unable to work and would be down until the virus was contained and files were restored. Therefore, it is crucial to have a backup system in place, as a company could face downtime for days and permanent loss of data. As this was caught early on one machine, we could prevent the virus from spreading and causing downtime.
HOW WE DEALT WITH IT?
This issue was immediately put under Category 1 – Critical. The server and all its files were recovered using client’s backup and recovery solution. Through this software, we could restore the company to a point before the infection and allow users to continue working. To do this, all users machines were individually scanned with our recommended anti-virus software. All machines showed they were clean. When we knew that all users were clean, we then proceeded to allow all end users to access servers again.
As Portal Technologies have the appropriate software and solutions in place, we were able to deal with the virus in a timely manner. Our technicians could use their experience and knowledge to eliminate these types of viruses quickly and efficiently to minimise downtime for our clients.
WHAT WAS THE RESULT FOR THE CLIENT?
By afternoon on the following day, all our client’s systems were back to normal and became fully operational with minimal downtime. Within 7 business hours the virus was caught, the infected files restored and the clients system fully operational.
Attacks can hinder business’s productivity and harm its reputation. The results of being hit with a Ransomware Virus are lost income, financial loss and ransomed data. Fortunately for our client, it did not reach this stage as we had the right solution in place.
Small businesses underestimate the threat of cyber-attacks and often don’t believe they are at risk, with 35% of business hit by cyber-attacks see cyber security as a low priority. Earlier this summer, business in Scotland lost around £2.5 million to online scammers. 875,000 SMEs across the UK have been affected by a cyber-attack over the last 12 months.
It is crucial that small business have knowledge of cyber-attacks such as Ransomware Viruses and how big a threat they can be. It is important to have a procedure in place – that’s why we’re here! If you have any concerns about the security of your IT Systems, please contact our support help desk – firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/sme-cyber-protection-attacks-hackers-small-businesses-medium-sized-security-online-wannacry-a7868426.html
Tower Gate Insurance- https://www.towergateinsurance.co.uk/liability-insurance/smes-and-cyber-attacks
HSBC – http://www.business.hsbc.uk/en-gb/cybercrime